What is the DASH diet and what are its benefits?

DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” It means eating a variety of foods that major American organizations’ research, including the American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health, and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, has found can be beneficial to heart health while avoiding food groups that have been shown to be harmful.

DASH promotes the consumption of vegetables and fruits, lean meat and dairy products, and the inclusion of micronutrients on the menu. It also recommends the reduction of sodium and limits the consumption of saturated fats, meat, and oil; while promoting foods high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber, and good fats like olive oil, avocados, and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as proteins like legumes, soy products, and nuts. Carbohydrates in the diet are mainly composed of cellulose and starches (whole grains like cracked wheat, low glycemic index fruits, green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli).

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The DASH diet helps lower blood pressure and reduce heart attack risk. This effect was seen both in hypertensive as well as normotensive people.

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